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In a strange way McLaren has never been about selling cars. Whereas other founders built themselves sports cars that the market didn’t offer, and then raced them, founder Bruce McLaren didn’t discuss building a road car until just before he tragically lost his life in 1970. Fast-forward to today and McLaren Automotive, the production car arm of McLaren Group, is the young gun of the supercar world. In less than 10 years on the consumer market, they’ve managed to acquire more than 50 percent of the market share of their rivals that have been in business for nearly a century. Why? Because in a culture ruled by innovation, they behave more like a tech company than a legacy brand.
With the popularity of F1 booming and the industry driving full speed into the EV revolution, we visited the McLaren Technology Center, the company’s HQ in Woking, England, to talk to its leadership about the future of the automotive industry.
Mike Flewitt, CEO
“The challenge with EV for us is, when will we do the first EV that is a better supercar? Or will it just be a greener supercar? If it’s just a greener supercar, that’s a really sad thing. I certainly think we’re going to have a period of time where we’re going to have to be doing hybrid cars and EV cars, because we will see markets move at a different pace. But if you’re in a country where legislation does push you there, you’re probably still going to want a supercar. So I think we’re going to have a period later on in the decade where we’ll probably have both.”
Ian Morgan, Director of Motorsport
“We can’t stop and ignore what’s going on in the future, and we see where it’s going and we have to react to that. And we’re very keen that our race products reflect our road car products. At the moment, there’s no hybrid option for GT racing, so we can’t go down that route, so we’re pushing ahead with what we know and with the regulations we’ve got at the moment, but inevitably something will change.”
Robert Melville, Design Director
“We’ve got an intriguing challenge in the designs we create, because it becomes about character and the foundations of what you’ve built your brand from. You have a mission statement, and then with the design pillars, the pillars shouldn’t just be things which are going to be trendy. The pillars should be things which you go, ’Okay, if we took that and applied it to a sofa, to cutlery, to a car, to a boat, to a plane, sunglasses, you would get a McLaren object.’”
Jamie Corstorphine, Director of Product Strategy
“I think the best thing to do is to build the best authentic products that we can that appeal to all drivers. We’ve got numerous female owners around the world who are loving and enjoying our cars and using them in various different conditions, on track, on road, etcetera. So I think it’s more about doing the best job in terms of the product that we can, rather than actively targeting any particular customer profile.”
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